Correspondence

2526.  EBB to RB

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 13, 228–230.

[London]

Wednesday night [5 August 1846][1]

Dearest, you did not have my letter, I think—the letter I wrote on tuesday, yesterday. These iniquitous postpeople—who are not likely to see in a vision (like your fat prophet) the devil cast out of them for the good of the world! Indeed it is too bad–

To answer first the question—(You are wise beyond me in all things .. let me say that in a parenthesis!) I will tell you what I know– Stormie told me the other day that I had eight thousand pounds in the funds,—of which the interest comes to me quarterly, the money being in two different percents: .. (do you understand better than I do?) & from forty to forty five pounds Papa gives me every three months, the income tax being first deducted. It may be eight thousand pounds, or more or less, .. it is difficult to ask about it, but what comes to me every three months, I know certainly. Then there is the ship money .. a little under two hundred a year on an average .. which I have not used at all, (but must for the future, use)[2] & the annual amount of which therefore, has been added to the Fund-money until this year, when I was directed to sign a paper which invested it (i.e. the annual return)[2] in the Eastern Railroad. That investment is to yield a large percentage, I heard, & Stormie tried to persuade me to ask Papa to place everything I had, on the same railroad. Papa had said down stairs the other day that it would be best so—& I ought to remind him to do it, repeated Stormie, as it would very much increase .. increase by doubling almost .. the available income,—& without the slightest risk of any kind. But I could not take the advice under the circumstances—I could not mention such a word as money to him, giving the appearance even of trouble about my affairs, now– And he would wonder how I should take a fancy suddenly to touch such matters with the end of my finger. Then there are the ten shares in Drury Lane Theatre—out of which, comes nothing.

You wonder how I can spend, perhaps, the quarterly forty pounds & upward that come to me? I do spend them. Yet let me hold you from being frightened, & teach you to consider how easy it is to spend money, & not upon oneself. Never in any one year of my life, even when I was well, have my expenses in dress (as I told Mr Kenyon the other day) exceeded twenty pounds– My greatest personal expense lately has been the morphine. Still the money flows out of window & door—you will understand how it flows like a stream. I have not the gift (if it is a gift) of making dykes .. in my situation, here– Elsewhere, all changes, you know– You shall not call me extravagant—you will see– If I was ‘surprised’ at what you told me of Mrs Norton, it was only because I had had other ideas of her– For my own gown cost five shillings .. the one I had on when you spoke. So she was better than I by a mere sixpence– Ah—it came into my head afterwards that my being ‘surprised’ about Mrs Norton, might argue my own extravagance. See!——

But the Goddess Dulness inspires me to write about it & about it,[3] to no end– I say briefly at last, that whatever I have, is mine .. & for use in Italy, as in England. Papa has managed .. has taken a power of attorney, to manage for me kindly .. but everything is in my name—& if it were not, he could not for a moment think of interfering with an incontestable right of property. Still, I do see a difficulty at the beginning—I mean that, as I am here, I could not put my hand out for a large sum, such as would be necessary perhaps. I have had a great deal to pay & do lately—& the next quarter will not be until the middle of October– Still there would be something, but less than is necessary. We might either wait on the road till the required sum were called for & sent—or get a hundred pounds advanced by someone for a few weeks until everything was settled .. which wd be pleasanter, if possible– Poor Papa’s first act will be to abandon his management—— Ah, may God grant him to do it rather angrily than painfully–

A letter, I have written to you, like the chiming of two pennypieces! a miserable letter!– And there is much to tell you .. but nothing painful .. do not fear– The Hedleys dined here, & Mrs Hedley has been sitting with me .. keeping me from writing– Good night now it must be! When you write so of caring to be with me, my heart seems to rock with pleasure– Should’nt this letter have been written on ’Change,[4] & is’nt it unworthy of all you are to me .. & even of all I am to you? But such things must be, after a fashion– Have I told you right, dearest? does it make any sense, altogether? You are wise in little subjects as in great ones, & I will let you make me wiser if you can. And there is no clay in dear Mr Kenyon .. but just the drop in the chrystal you tell me of—only you shall not divine by him, my Druid, or you will sit by yourself under the oak tree to the end of the day!–

Wholly yours & ever—in the greatest haste–

Address: Robert Browning Esqre / New Cross / Hatcham / Surrey.

Postmark: 10FN10 AU6 1846 A.

Docket, in RB’s hand: 240.

Publication: RB-EBB, pp. 935–937.

Manuscript: Wellesley College.

1. Date provided by postmark.

2. Parenthetical passage is interpolated above the line.

3. Cf. Pope, The Dunciad (1728), IV, 252.

4. A reference to the Royal Exchange, where merchants in the City conducted business.

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